Gene expression regulation encompasses a wide range of mechanisms that govern cellular processes. Among these, post-transcriptional regulation, including translation control, plays a pivotal role in ensuring precise protein synthesis, timing, and quantity. Perturbations of mechanisms such as RNA modifications, and interactions between RNA-binding proteins (RBPs) and specific RNA motifs, can lead to dysregulation of essential cellular processes. These alterations contribute to the development of various disorders, including cancer, neurodegenerative diseases, and metabolic disorders. Many publicly available datasets and studies offer opportunities to investigate the link between alterations in these mechanisms and disease manifestations. However, the limited availability of datasets for certain conditions or notable inconsistencies among reported associations prevent complete understanding of the underlying processes. Therefore, extending the investigations to encompass a diverse range of genes and/or diseases will enhance our comprehension of these intricate regulatory and disease mechanisms, aiding in the identification of potential therapeutic targets and innovative interventions to mitigate pathological conditions. In particular, we focused on three separate aspects involved in gene expression regulation: RNA modifications, RBPs interactions with RNA secondary structures, and the Kozak consensus sequence as a translational modulator. Each part uncovers essential mechanisms that govern post-transcriptional control of gene expression, shedding light on their roles in cellular processes and disease contexts. At first, we performed a comprehensive exploration of 15 RBPs involved in the regulation of the N6-methyladenosine (m6A) methylation. Leveraging data from The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA), we conducted a pan-cancer analysis across 31 tumor types to uncover the distribution of alterations of these factors, and we developed a user-friendly web application to enable users to conduct similar analyses. Additionally, we performed a parallel analysis focused on neuroblastoma, using data from publicly available and in-house datasets. These investigations unveil the potential impact of a subset of m6A factors on cancer development and progression. While in the first case, VIRMA and YTHDF reader proteins, emerged as the most frequently altered genes with significant pan-cancer prognostic implications, in the context of neuroblastoma, the writer METTL14 and the reader ALKBH5, showed the most prominent roles. Subsequently, our focus shifted to a distinct subset of RBPs capable of interacting with RNA secondary structures, particularly with RNA G-quadruplexes (RG4s). We established a comprehensive database cataloging RBPs with potential RG4-binding capabilities. This resource represents a valuable tool for researchers aiming to explore the intricate interplays between RBPs and RG4s, and their putative implications in diverse biological processes and diseases. Finally, attention was directed to the Kozak sequence, a pivotal determinant of the regulation of translation initiation. Exploiting the power of base editors, we developed a method to optimize translation initiation by modifying the Kozak sequence. This strategy offers promise in addressing haploinsufficiency-related disorders, where enhancing the functional protein is essential. Overall, these findings present opportunities for the identification of potential therapeutic targets and precision medicine strategies to alleviate a spectrum of pathological conditions, thus fostering advancements in the field of molecular biology and disease management.

Addressing alterations of post-transcriptional regulation in cancer and rare diseases by computational approaches / Destefanis, Eliana. - (2024 Jan 22), pp. 1-160.

Addressing alterations of post-transcriptional regulation in cancer and rare diseases by computational approaches

Destefanis, Eliana
2024-01-22

Abstract

Gene expression regulation encompasses a wide range of mechanisms that govern cellular processes. Among these, post-transcriptional regulation, including translation control, plays a pivotal role in ensuring precise protein synthesis, timing, and quantity. Perturbations of mechanisms such as RNA modifications, and interactions between RNA-binding proteins (RBPs) and specific RNA motifs, can lead to dysregulation of essential cellular processes. These alterations contribute to the development of various disorders, including cancer, neurodegenerative diseases, and metabolic disorders. Many publicly available datasets and studies offer opportunities to investigate the link between alterations in these mechanisms and disease manifestations. However, the limited availability of datasets for certain conditions or notable inconsistencies among reported associations prevent complete understanding of the underlying processes. Therefore, extending the investigations to encompass a diverse range of genes and/or diseases will enhance our comprehension of these intricate regulatory and disease mechanisms, aiding in the identification of potential therapeutic targets and innovative interventions to mitigate pathological conditions. In particular, we focused on three separate aspects involved in gene expression regulation: RNA modifications, RBPs interactions with RNA secondary structures, and the Kozak consensus sequence as a translational modulator. Each part uncovers essential mechanisms that govern post-transcriptional control of gene expression, shedding light on their roles in cellular processes and disease contexts. At first, we performed a comprehensive exploration of 15 RBPs involved in the regulation of the N6-methyladenosine (m6A) methylation. Leveraging data from The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA), we conducted a pan-cancer analysis across 31 tumor types to uncover the distribution of alterations of these factors, and we developed a user-friendly web application to enable users to conduct similar analyses. Additionally, we performed a parallel analysis focused on neuroblastoma, using data from publicly available and in-house datasets. These investigations unveil the potential impact of a subset of m6A factors on cancer development and progression. While in the first case, VIRMA and YTHDF reader proteins, emerged as the most frequently altered genes with significant pan-cancer prognostic implications, in the context of neuroblastoma, the writer METTL14 and the reader ALKBH5, showed the most prominent roles. Subsequently, our focus shifted to a distinct subset of RBPs capable of interacting with RNA secondary structures, particularly with RNA G-quadruplexes (RG4s). We established a comprehensive database cataloging RBPs with potential RG4-binding capabilities. This resource represents a valuable tool for researchers aiming to explore the intricate interplays between RBPs and RG4s, and their putative implications in diverse biological processes and diseases. Finally, attention was directed to the Kozak sequence, a pivotal determinant of the regulation of translation initiation. Exploiting the power of base editors, we developed a method to optimize translation initiation by modifying the Kozak sequence. This strategy offers promise in addressing haploinsufficiency-related disorders, where enhancing the functional protein is essential. Overall, these findings present opportunities for the identification of potential therapeutic targets and precision medicine strategies to alleviate a spectrum of pathological conditions, thus fostering advancements in the field of molecular biology and disease management.
22-gen-2024
XXXV
2022-2023
CIBIO (29/10/12-)
Biomolecular Sciences
Quattrone, Alessandro
Dassi, Erik
no
Inglese
Settore BIO/13 - Biologia Applicata
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11572/400636
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